When you’re setting up your store, there are some essentials that everyone tends to focus on, like choosing a theme and getting the first version of your visual brand set up.
But once you’ve done that, and you pop open a preview of your store, what do you do when it still doesn’t feel right? That’s what we’re tackling today on Ask Shopify, with two key ways to add more personality to your store.
How can I add personality to my store?
I chose a theme, and filled in all of the "required" sections, but I find that it still doesn't really feel like it reflects my brand. I'm not a designer or a developer, so I'm not sure what I should do next to help bring my brand to life and make the theme feel like it fits.
Creating your store is an exciting process, and it’s one you likely went into with a explicit vision for what the final product should look like. Whether that means a defined idea of your brand’s overall visual design or just a sense of what you want your brand to stand for, bringing it to life is an important part of launching your store.
But sometimes, you finally get through your first attempt and something still feels off. You’ve got the basics set up in your theme, but it’s not really hitting every note you hoped.
Luckily, there are ways to add extra brand oomph to your store after getting your theme and your visual brand set up. If you want to really bring your brand to life, two areas that stand toe-to-toe with design in terms of impact are photography and copywriting.
While photography and design both impact the look and feel of your store, photography is a true workhorse shaping the look and feel of your store, sometimes even more so than your visual branding decisions.
Consider this product page section from Wristology as an example.
After displaying the key product information at the top of the page, they include on-brand photos to help build your overall impression of the brand and the product.
There are two vital places where photography makes a strong statement on your store: your product photos, and your hero or background photography.
It’s almost impossible to understate the importance of great product photography. It’s how your customers evaluate and connect with your products, since they can’t touch, hold, or try them before buying. Done well, your product photos can boost your conversions by helping people connect with and picture themselves using or wearing your stuff.
Even if you’re not a photographer, there are steps you can take to improve your product photography to help get your store looking its best.
- Shoot with natural light. There’s no need to run out and buy or borrow lighting equipment in the name of nailing your product photography. All you really need for your photos is natural light and an understanding of how to use it.
- Shoot with the camera you have available. While it can be tempting to use “I need product photos” as an excuse to go out and buy a camera you’ve been eyeing, there’s no need. You can shoot great product photos on your smartphone, or any camera you have available.
- Optimize your images. Even if you take great photos, you need to make sure they’re optimized for your store, and uploaded in the best format. Here’s a guide to optimizing your images for the web.
- Streamline your product photography workflow. Before you shoot a single frame, a bit of planning can help you make the most of the time you’re investing in product photography. Here’s everything you need to know to build a product photography workflow.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for great product photography advice, we’ve got you covered. Check out the Ultimate Guide to DIY Product Photography.
Photographing your products is one thing, but there are other key areas where photography can help build your store’s brand, like your About page and your Home page. In those places, you don’t need to stick to just product images, which is where brand photography comes in.
This could include photos of you, your workspace, or any images that speak to the overall lifestyle you want to evoke with your products and your brand. Here’s an example from Almond Surfboards.
This image is a perfect fit for their laid-back, well-designed surfing brand, and ends their About page on a high note without a single product in the photo.
Although it’s important to complement your product photos with brand photography, finding or shooting compelling photos to liven up your pages can be its own distinct challenge. Luckily, there are resources available to help if you’re not quite ready to style an entire shoot to capture branded images.
- Lifestyle photo templates. If you’re selling a printed product, like a t-shirt with your design on it, or a mug, there are templates you can use to present your designs in what looks like a styled photoshoot, without having to set up the entire shoot yourself. Here are 22 free and paid templates you can use to display your t-shirt designs (including onesies!).
- Stock images. The stock images that are up for grabs today aren’t just the awkward stock photos everyone laughs at on social media. There are stand out photos available on multiple websites, and you can find great free and paid options to use on your store.
It’s all too easy to think of copywriting as a fill-in-the-blank activity when you’re setting up your theme. Put a few descriptors here, sprinkle some adjectives there, and you’re done. This is especially tempting if you don’t consider yourself “a writer,” but the words you choose are how you convey value to potential customers and give voice to your brand. Choose poorly, and you’ll hurt your reputation—not to mention your conversions.
The good news is, you’re entirely capable of writing dynamic brand copy for your new store, especially since the most compelling copy feels like an extension of the person who wrote it—you get to set the voice, tone, and personality that best represents your brand and speaks to your ideal customer. Plus, all you need to craft new words for your site is some time, an understanding of your brand, and a blank page.
Here are two key things you need to think about to get your brand across in your writing.
While you don’t need to tell your brand’s story on every page, there are some places where it should take center stage. Your About page is one such place, and while it’s easy to overlook the importance of the About page because it’s not directly selling products, remember it does sell something just an important: your story. Leveling up your copywriting to tell your brand story can be a big boost to your business.
Here’s everything you need to know about writing an About Page for your business, including scripts to steal and examples for inspiration.
Phrasing and word choices
Part of understanding your brand means understanding your audience and what appeals to them. With that information, you can take another swing at your existing copy to see if there are opportunities to better match the specific words you’ve chosen with the broader message you want your brand to communicate.
If that seems vague, here’s an example.
Soap is something you can get just about everywhere, from the pharmacy to the grocery store. No one has ever said they were really struggling with a lack of good soap options.
So Whiskey River Soap Company used words to help their soap stand out. Each of their bars of soap features a hilarious “Soap for…” description on the label, and their product pages use that humour throughout. Here’s the product description for Soap for Awkward Moments.
Ah, memories. Look, everyone has a few awkward moments in their past. Flat-out embarrassing and impossible to shake off, this is the stuff life is made of. I should know. I clock in two or three of these every few minutes, and that's just on Twitter. In real life, I'm a complete trainwreck. And proud of it! You should be, too. That's why you need a special Soap for Awkward Moments. It's not as cool as a national holiday, but it's a damn good start.”
Since writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, here’s one easy way you can adjust your copywriting to sound more like your brand: read it out loud. When you hear yourself saying each sentence, you’ll quickly catch anything that sounds too formal or awkward.
Your brand’s personality might not pair well with the ultra-casual, quirky tone of companies like Whiskey River—that’s OK, “fun” and “funny” are strategic tone choices that don’t work for every business. But when you read your copy out loud, it should sound right to you based on your brand’s attributes, and how you would communicate with a customer in person.
Your brand is never just one thing
When you’re setting up your store for the first time, it’s easy to focus on theme setup and precise design choices. Those two things provide the foundation for the rest of your visual identity and the structure for your store, but on their own they’re not enough to fully represent your brand.
Once you have those key elements in place, it’s time to turn your focus to photography and copywriting. With some initial investments in those areas, either of time or money, you’ll be on your way to a store that really reflects your brand. However, your brand is built from all parts of your business, so while these are key steps to getting started, it’s by no means an exhaustive list.